I am a fairly new "real" knitter; I've only been doing real knitting for about 2 years. By real knitting I mean as a child I learned how to knit. Knit, not purl, just knit. OK for scarves but that is about it. Not really a "real" knitter". So I am relatively proud of successfully completing a knitting project that was graded as Intermediate: a lace edged shawl.
Follow me below the orange squiggle for a short story of my journey on this project.
Two years ago, I took an intro to knitting class with my sister and two nieces. It was a real bust for them as the teacher spent the whole class trying to teach them to do a cast on via knitting. I asked if I could do a back-of-the-thumb cast on and she said yes and I practiced knitting and learned purling. My sister and two nieces gave me their knitting needles and have never looked back. I've tried to tell them it doesn't have to be that way, but the teacher was firm with them that they had to do a knitting cast on so they could learn knitting. They could not master that, so they weren't going to continue. Such is the power of a teacher.
So over the last two years with the help of knitting friends I've learned to do socks; I've done two sweaters and scarves of course. At Stitches last year I took a lace knitting class. The teacher was excellent, except for a problem with the hand out. I chose feather and fan pattern to learn. I kept doing a half dozen rows and then ripping them out. Teacher finally came by and asked why I kept ripping out my stitches. I told her I kept doing something wrong but didn't know what. I kept getting dags on the piece -- shown below:
She told me that of course I was getting dags, I was supposed to. I pointed to the handout that showed the piece from the middle. No dags showing. However, since that day I've really enjoyed doing lace. I'm not very good at it yet, but I've solved some of the problems I've been having.
The piece shown at the top is the Inflorescence shawl from the book Sock Yarn Shawls. One of the things I really like about the shawls in this book is that they begin with a Tab cast on. Basically cast on a small amount of stitches, usually between 3 and 6. In this cast 3 stitches. Knit several rows, in this case 6 rows, then rotate the piece 90 degrees clockwise and pick up 3 stitches along the edge; rotate again clockwise 90 degrees and pick up 3 more stitches. You now have 9 stitches and you begin row one. The benefit of this cast on is that you don't get that flat spot right at the top of the center row that is in many of the top down shawls.
One of the key items I've learned is placing markers between every pattern repeat. See the red and blue markers at the beginning of each pattern repeat below.
The key benefit of this is you catch your mistakes within each pattern, so you do not get to the end of a long row and find out that somewhere within those 100 or so stitches you made a mistake - maybe didn't do a knit 2 together, or whatever. With markers you get to the end of a repeat and if the last stitches are fine, you are likely good. Of course you could make compensating errors, but that's pretty unlikely. In most cases if you get to the end of a repeat and the stitches aren't working out right, you just go over the 7 - 12 stitches (whatever is the repeat pattern) to find out where you have the problem. Much much easier.
For a triangle shawl where you keep adding stitches every other row I did not think this was possible. Of course, I was wrong. Basically you still put in stitch markers with each repeat pattern as soon as you have a repeat. You just add more as the shawl grows from the ends and the middle. In this book, they recommend putting stitch markers on each side of the middle stitch. Based on the mistake I made with another shawl I'm working on, I like that idea.
In this book, they refer to using stitch markers if you are new to lace knitting. I am new to it, but I believe I will always use them if there is a pattern repeat. They just make everything easier to keep track of. I have another lace shawl I started and put away and I realize now that if I rip out the last five rows, to the first life line, and start at that point and put in markers, the shawl should not be a problem to finish.
About life lines. For knitting lace, they are your friend. They are a line of thread run through the loops of the knit row so that if you have to rip out rows, there is a place where the row of knitting is secure. See below. One word of advice -- go around the markers. The first lifeline I put in, I ran the thread through the markers as well. That doesn't work.
I only put in 1 lifeline on this shawl, which is when I started the lace panel. I really think if you use markers, you don't need a lot of life lines.
One more point: needles for knitting lace. There are better needles for knitting lace than the pink cheap plastic needles shown. This is my first project. What did I know? And as it shows, you can even use the cheap needles to do lace. There is much discussion as to which needles are best for lace. I personally like the Harmony wood needles, but that's just a preference.
Hope all is well with everyone and What Are You Working On?